I lead a relatively predicable life. My schedule is consistent to the point of being boring. I tend to follow the same ebb and flow of our days, only recognizing something is different when there is a hiccup. I love routines. I’ve found that that sameness allows my mind the expanse needed to dream, to think, to mind the gaps that open up all over the place for time with E. Such a pleasant development, that.
Tonight, when out for our twilight walkabout, we strolled past the library and exchanged greetings with a young man that I couldn’t quite place, but he was so warm with his hello that we waved to him. At an earlier moment during that walk, we passed the white fruit truck that sits near the corner of our street. Just last Saturday afternoon, we ambled down to buy two mangoes, E’s favorite fruit, and Artur, the owner, had a delightful conversation with E, teaching his name in the process and selecting perfectly ripened fruit for us that he’s eaten throughout the week.
Small kindnesses linger.
Several times on the train people comment about how big E is getting, or ask me if he’s still nursing. The train conductor that drives our train in the morning waves to him if she sees us waiting on the platform. At toddler singalong last week, a woman said to me: “I know you. I can’t remember where, but I know you, and him.” She gestured to E. Later, as I was wrangling the rain shield over the stroller and hoping I could roll it down enough to drown out E’s protests, we saw her again.
“You’re the woman on the train! You read to him!” Yes, I nodded. She turned to her friend, telling her the same information, then offering me a smile that lit up the gloomy day, they zipped away.
What I have come to realize is, as much as I notice the same people who come and go throughout our day, they are noticing me as well. I do not know any of their names; instead, I refer to them as woman with the small coffee who naps between Fields Corner and South Station. The physical therapist and her mom who tell me great places to find deals on kids’ clothing. The man who is fresh to death with his brilliant, gleaming white sneakers who chats up E for a few stops.
We form this multitude of commuters and neighbors that occupy friendly space, noticing comings and goings on a level deeper than a passing fancy. As much as I attempt to identify the people in our lives by description, maybe they do the same with me: from the woman who nursed her baby on the train, to the woman who reads with her son, or the woman who walks with her son around the block, stopping to purchase mangoes or to coax spring flowers from their winter hiding places. The little boy who sings lines of songs that they complete in their heads (or sing along with him a bit, even). That watches the buses maneuver out of the parking lot. That stops and starts along Harvard Yard. These people are our living breathing markers of our developmental milestones.
There is something about this realization that is comforting. Morbidly, I often wonder if something happened to me if anyone would know. It is a fleeting thought, but sometimes my mind goes there before I remind it that life is so, so good.
These people bear witness for us, and I, for them.